Category Archives: Campus Life

Senator Bernie Sanders delivers 58th annual Green Lecture

Sanders delivers the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture inside Westminster’s Champ Auditorium on Sept. 21. Members of the Churchill Singers and select students and faculty members sat onstage during the speech. PHOTO BY JIM MALVEN.

BY MADISON INGRAM 
STAFF WRITER

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster College on Sept. 21. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history and ran for the Democratic party nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


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Young conservative advocate promotes open, respectful dialogue in first event of 2017 Symposium

Dillon speaks in Hermann Lounge on Wednesday, Sept. 19. PHOTO COURTESY OF LONE CONSERVATIVE. 

BY ALLIE KENNEBECK

Conservative journalist and political commentator Kassy Dillon spoke to an audience of Westminster students, faculty and board members on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the first event of the 2017 Hancock Symposium.

In her talk, entitled “Campus Conservatism and Social Media,” Dillon discussed issues regarding conservatism on college campuses and explained how social media can be used as a tool for conservative and non-conservative activism. She also promoted open, respectful dialogue among all peoples on all subjects.


Dillon defined conservatism as “the idea that a well-ordered government is necessary to a well-ordered society, but is not the solution to the problem of society.”

She added, “Conservatism is based on the ideas of conserving the values of the Constitution. Government exists to defend the right of the people, not to be the source of those rights.”

Dillon argued that conservative ideals are being repressed in the world of higher education and that this repression is unhealthy for students of all political affiliations.

“Conservatism is based on the ideas of conserving the values of the Constitution.”

To support her first argument, she gave the example of what she implied to be an extreme reaction to conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro coming to speak at the University of California, Berkley, in September. Shapiro, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Buzz, was lined up to speak, but, Dillon said, excessive pushback coming from liberal-sided students, faculty and administrators led to the school charging the Shapiro organization $600,000 for security measures.

Dillon also described an incident that occurred at Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, last November. On the night before Veteran’s Day, Hampshire students pulled down an American flag and set it on fire. In response, the president of the college ordered the removal of all American flags found on campus, to avoid further controversy.

These examples highlight the pressing issue that Dillon explained throughout her talk: the difficulty that conservatives face in expressing their beliefs.

In addition, Dillon said that the restraint of certain beliefs, including conservative rhetoric, is harmful and has no place in higher education.

“College is supposed to be a place where students are exposed to new ideas,” she said. “It is not the job of a college to protect its students from ideas, but to teach them how to confront them head-on.”

She said that academia should be a place for “an open, respectful dialogue which celebrates the idea of diversity of thought,” adding, “Diversity of ideas is as important as any other kind of diversity.”

To promote political diversity for college students, Dillon founded Lone Conservative, an online platform where young, conservative-minded college students may voice their opinions and inquire about issues in our society today. Dillon created the blog to provide an easy way for conservatives to acquire the information they want or need, as well as serve as a forum for discussion and debate over certain topics.

“The Internet, and social media in particular, is a great place to connect with other conservatives, learn from each other and develop platforms,” she said. “Social media is great for political activism because it opens so many doors that were never there before.”

Dillon said that the Internet plays a vital role in the cultivation political opinions, which is why she said her blog is so essential to the millennial conservative culture.

“It is not the job of a college to protect its students from ideas, but to teach them how to confront them head-on.”

However, Dillon also spoke of some of the downsides to the use of social media in the world of politics, namely that social media can lead to gross generalizations and false conclusions.

She said that “the drive to fit ideas into 140 characters and the constant desire for attention means that both sides are pushed to further and further extremes.”

On the conservative side of the spectrum, the furthest extreme is the “alt-right.” The alt-right, which has been associated with racist and fascist ideas, is not affiliated with the official conservative party. Members of this group have been known to take the idea of freedom of speech and warp it into their own perception, which is that we should be able to speak about whatever we want, regardless of its offense to other people, Dillon said. These movements are the sources of many of the United States’ difficulties on social media and in the real world, including the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and many more hate crimes across the country, she added.

Dillon explicitly stated that the conservative party in no way adopts or condones the actions of extreme white nationalists, and that it is unfair to attribute the actions of such a small group to the entire the Republican Party.

Because of these misconceptions regarding the party’s platform, Dillon  explained, the Internet, although a useful tool for our education and advocacy, can be quite dangerous. The alt-right will continue to spread false conspiracies, causing people who side to the left to condemn the right even more, eventually pushing people from either party to be polar opposites of the other, she said. Dillon said that she wants to break open these barriers by cultivating true dialogue between those who differ in ideology in order to attain a more compete perception of each political standpoint.

Toward the end of her talk, Dillon stated what she believes to be the most important way to initiate change in society, and that is to simply talk about it and create dialogue that was not there before.

When asked by a Westminster student how students can “restore sanity to [the] college campus,” Dillon replied: “I think it’s important that students speak up, but do it respectfully. Talk to you professors, make friends with them. You have to speak up. Organize.”

“I think it’s important that students speak up, but do it respectfully.”

Then, in a follow-up question, another student asked how they may speak up if they are a minority. Dillon answered: “I would talk to people, have discussions. One-on-one chats are my favorite thing.”

Dillon suggested that students make relationships with those who disagree with them, in order to try to create new opinions while also attempting to learn from the opinions of others as well. She urged the students in the audience to voice their opinions and to act on their beliefs with all of their heart.

Students debate whether Trump should be impeached

Christian Payne speaks in Hermann Lounge on Friday, Oct. 6. Payne argued there are currently no grounds on which to impeach Trump. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH OPOKU.

BY JIM MALVEN
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Four first-year students and Westminster Debating Society members debated in front of a crowd of students in Hermann Lounge on Friday, Oct. 6, whether U.S. President Donald Trump should be impeached. Jesse Calvert and Ian Meyer argued that Trump should be impeached immediately, while Christian Payne and Joshua Danbury-Nolan asserted that there are no grounds on which to impeach Trump at this point in time.


Each side of the debate had five minutes to give an opening statement, three minutes to cross-examine the opposition, 30 seconds to respond to the cross-examination, three minutes to make a rebuttal and two minutes to give closing remarks. Debating Society Faculty Adviser Dr. Kali Wright-Smith moderated the discussion.

Impeachment refers to the passing of formal legal charges against a government officer by the House of Representatives. If a simple majority of representatives agree to impeach the officer, the officer is tried by the Senate and removed from office if found guilty in a two-thirds majority vote. The U.S. Constitution states that officers may be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Calvert gave the opening statement for the affirmative side. He said that the impeachment of Trump would be “beneficial and just.”

Calvert

Students listen as Calvert presents the case for Trump’s immediate impeachment. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH OPOKU.

Calvert said that Trump has been accused of seven different impeachable offenses, including colluding with Russian officials to boost his presidential campaign and obstructing justice in a resulting investigation of the alleged collusion. On the latter point, Calvert specifically referenced Trump’s dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey, who was involved in the investigation.

“Trump is abusing his powers to avoid impeachment,” Calvert stated. “As college students, we cannot prove that Trump has committed all of these crimes, but we can prove that he doesn’t want the truth found out.”

When asked by Danbury-Nolan in cross-examination how advocating Trump’s impeachment is fair when it is unclear whether Trump has actually committed any impeachable offenses, Calvert replied that impeachment and the subsequent trial would allow for clarity.

“As college students, we cannot prove that Trump has committed all of these crimes, but we can prove that he doesn’t want the truth found out.” — Jesse Calvert

Payne delivered his team’s opening statements. He explained that he and Danbury-Nolan, both students from the University of Winchester, do not necessarily believe that Trump should never be impeached, rather that he should not be impeached now. In fact, they said that they do not fully support Trump’s policies and joked about being glad to be going back to the United Kingdom after the end of the semester.

Regardless, Payne said that impeachment should be delayed at least until special counsel Robert Mueller finishes investigating Trump’s alleged affairs with Russia, or until any other evidence of impeachable crimes committed by Trump can be collected.

“We are asking you for one thing,” Payne said. “Time.”

Payne added that Trump has the right to fire officials such as Comey and that Comey’s dismissal does not constitute obstruction of justice, per se.

“We are asking you for one thing,” Payne said. “Time.”

Calvert objected in his cross-examination of Payne that a vote of impeachment does not require extensive evidence.

Payne agreed but pointed out that several political commentators called for former president Barack Obama to be impeached when he was in office. Payne cited an article from the Atlantic that summarizes potential grounds for the impeachment of Obama laid out by reporter Aaron Klein in a 2013 book. In the book, Klein questions whether Obama bypassed Congress in passing his healthcare plan and immigration policy, whether National Security surveillance monitoring under Obama was legal or ethical, and whether the Obama administration acted with integrity in Syria.

Payne said that these and similar arguments for Obama’s impeachment were ridiculous and that an impeachment of Trump on the day of the debate would be just as ridiculous as an impeachment of Obama during his presidency.

In the affirmative side’s rebuttal, Meyer claimed that there are reasons to impeach Trump now, and that although Trump had the right to fire Comey, the issue is not whether Trump had the right to do so but whether he should have done so.

Danbury-Nolan gave the rebuttal for the opposition, in which he declared that an immediate impeachment of Trump would violate Trump’s right to due process, as there is no evidence of any impeachable activity yet.

Calvert took the opportunity in his closing statement to criticize this point, restating that impeachment is only the first step in the process of the potential removal of an officer and that Trump would still receive a fair trial if he were impeached.

“They claim to care about due process, but we care about it a little more than they do, because we understand it,” he said.

Payne closed his team’s argument by telling the audience to “consider the consequences” of an imminent impeachment of Trump for the justice system.

“[Imminent] impeachment would lower the bar and weaponize the system,” he said.

Prior to the debate, students used the website Mentimeter to vote whether Trump should be impeached. Forty of 54 students (74 percent) voted “yes,” and 14 (26 percent) voted “no.”

After hearing both sides’ arguments, students voted again – a total of 53 this time. Thirty-two (60 percent) voted “yes,” while 21 (40 percent) voted no.

Bernie Sanders to speak at Westminster on Sept. 21

BY JIM MALVEN
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

United States Senator Bernie Sanders will deliver the 2017 John Findley Green Foundation Lecture on campus later this month, according to an announcement made Friday by Dr. Carolyn Perry, Westminster acting president, and Dr. Kurt Jefferson, director of the Churchill Institute for Global Engagement.

Sanders was a candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election and is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history.

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Perry addresses Westminster’s presidential transition

Dr. Carolyn Perry was appointed acting president of Westminster College on Aug. 18, 2017, after having served as senior vice president and dean of faculty for five years. 

BY JIM MALVEN
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 

More than 50 student organization heads and members filed into Hermann Lounge on Friday, Aug. 18, in response to an invitation they received from recently appointed Acting President Dr. Carolyn Perry. Perry said that she would discuss and take questions pertaining to the leadership transition that students were informed of less than an hour earlier.

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Westminster Campus Activities Board Strives for More Student Interaction on Campus

A collage of students at various CAB events throughout the semester. PHOTO COURTESY OF TENZIN TSUENDUE.

BY DYLAN OKENFUSS 
STAFF WRITER

The Westminster College Campus Activities Board (CAB) has had difficulties in attracting students to attend events, so this semester the group made an effort to be more proactive in getting students involved.  

CAB has increased its presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and has encouraged students to pitch their own ideas. CAB president Lydia Creech, ’19, stated that they have handed out surveys at their events in order to gauge interest in potential future events. This tactic appears to have been effective. Creech stated, “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback in relation to how our current events are going and what kinds of events we can have in the future.”  

“I want everyone to know that we take every criticism seriously.”  –Lydia Creech, ’19, CAB president.  

The surveys collected at every event are reviewed during CAB’s weekly meeting. “I want everyone to know that we take every criticism seriously,” said Creech.  

In addition to being more active on social media and listening to feedback from the student body, CAB has also marketed their events in JCI and have posted flyers around campus. By advertising in various places and formats, CAB is hoping to attract different crowds of people.  

“I always encourage my chairs by letting them know that if one person comes to an event and has a good time, then it was a successful event,” Creech explained. “We are going to try and provide events that a wide variety of people can go to throughout the year and say that they had fun at an event.”  

More students participating in these events will lead to new relationships being formed within the student body and a healthier environment on campus, Creech said: “We hope that if people are enjoying events and having a good time creating relationships with people and memories at Westminster, then they will want to stay and bring their friends, too.”  

“I always encourage my chairs by letting them know that if one person comes to an event and has a good time, then it was a successful event.”  –Lydia Creech, ’19

Emily Nordsieck, CAB’s creative publicity chair and special events chair, said that her favorite part of the increased student engagement is having the opportunity to get a chance to see and interact with people that she otherwise wouldn’t have. 

Notable events that CAB has orchestrated this semester include archery tag, a mystery bus trip, Tattoo Tuesday, comedy nights, a performance by hypnotist David Hall, and the leadership awards. 

Students who feel that they can contribute to the student life or campus environment at Westminster can pitch ideas to Lydia Creech by email  at LCreech.19@westminster-mo.edu. 

Students can also like the CAB on Facebook by searching Westminster CAB, following the CAB on twitter (@WestMOCAB), or following on Instagram @ westmocab.

Allison Frisella, ’19, and Tenzin Tsuendue, ’19, contributed to the reporting of this story.

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